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2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

fy a reply to what precedes, nor indeed the continuance of the same subject; but sometimes the commencement of a new discourse. Here our Lord addresses the people in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees, who had not only understood, but keenly felt the force of the parables he had just uttered, having, as St. Mark informs us, departed.

Verse 2. A marriage feast.—The procedure of God under the gospel dispensation, and the conduct of men, are compared to that of a sovereign who made a marriage feast, and invited many guests. Tapos, and yapot, are used simply for a feast, sometimes for a marriage feast, the plural intimating the number of days occupied by the festivity, and which rendered it rather a succession of feasts, than one only. Some modern critics, as Michaelis, Rosenmuller, Koinoel, and Schleusner, understand it as a feast of inauguration, in which, according to the eastern mode of speaking, sovereigns were solemnly united to their country as by the conjugal bond. Thus Rosenmuller, Nam ex moribus orientalium reges die inaugurationis considerantur ut sponsi et mariti, rite et solemniter jungendi civitati et subditis, qui sponsæ et conjugi comparantur. Whatever the occasion was, the point turns upon its being a great and munificent royal feast, to which all who were invited were bound to come, not only for their own honour and advantage, but in respect of their loyalty, and to show this by acknowledging the Son, for whose dignity, and in recognition of

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whose right, it was instituted. St. Luke has a similar parable; but it was uttered on another occasion.

Verse 3. Sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden.-Servants were on some occasions first sent round to invite the guests; these were called vocatores by the Romans, and KλnTopes by the Greeks; and thus notice was given of the time of the entertainment. But, on the evening of the day appointed, messengers were sent to call or summon them that were bidden; that is, those who were previously invited. Hence St. Luke says, " And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready."

Verse 4. He sent forth other servants, &c.-Thus he urged even those to come, who had insolently and disloyally refused his servants, setting forth the abundance and sumptuousness of the banquet, in order to give effect to their invitation: My oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come to the feast. The dinner, To apisтov, was the early meal of the day; and what we call such, as being the principal meal, was deferred till the business and heat of the day was over, that is, till the evening, and was called TO DETOV, which we render supper. Both terms are, however, often used generally for a feast.

Verses 5, 6. But they made light of it, &c.-Two classes are here particularly marked: 1. The CARELESS, who neglected the invitation, and went to their occupations. 2. The PERSECUTING, the remnant,

6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

O AOTO; all who were not simply careless, who resisted the servants, treated them ignominiously, and put them to death.

So far the parable applies to the Jews exclusively. Under the figure of a royal feast is doubtless represented that fulness of spiritual blessings, to which they were invited by the first preachers of the gospel immediately upon our Lord's exaltation. But whether this feast is to be considered as a marriage feast, is doubtful; and the mystical expositions which rest upon this supposition are therefore without sufficient basis. It is at least equally probable, that the allusion is to the inauguration of the son of a king, into a joint government with his royal father; but this also is not sufficiently clear to warrant any inference being drawn from it. It is safer therefore to consider it simply as a feast given by a king in honour of his son, whatever might be the occasion. The Syriac version renders auous simply a feast. The Jews are said to be twice invited; first, bidden, and then summoned when the feast was ready. The servants, the λnтоρes, who performed this service, were the prophets down to John the Baptist; all of whom, in succession, announced this royal feast, or the blessings to be bestowed in the age of Messiah, and held them out to the hope of Israel. Thus the Jews were already the invited, or those bidden. The servants who were repeatedly sent after all things were ready cannot, as Whitby thinks, represent the seventy disciples sent forth by our Lord; for all things were not then ready; the feast was not fully prepared, until after the sacrifice and exaltation of

our Lord. We are, therefore, to understand by these servants the apostles, and other disciples in succession, who, after the day of pentecost, and before the destruction of Jerusalem, repeatedly urged upon their countrymen the acceptance of those gracious offers of pardon and reconciliation which they had been authorized to make; but who were treated either with careless neglect, or with contumely, persecution, or martyrdom. Then followed the destruction and burning of their city by the Romans; a standing monument to the world, in all future ages, of the aggravated offence of slighting the overtures of mercy, and of despising the gospel. This calamity is, however, spoken of by anticipation, as Gentiles were invited long before the Jews were finally rejected; but it is introduced to complete that branch of the parable which relates to the Jews as a people. What follows has respect both to Jews and Gentiles; to all, in fact, who, to the end of time, may profess to embrace the great evangelical invitation, and come into the church under profession of a desire to partake of the blessings promised to her true members, both in this and a future life.

Verse 8. The wedding is ready, &c.— Γαμος ετοιμος εστιν, the feast is prepared, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Here agios is not to be understood in the sense of meritoriousness, but WELL DISPOSED; as in chap. x. 11, where the apostles when sent forth are directed to inquire, when they entered a city, who in it was worthy," disposed to entertain such messengers, and receive religious instruction; or it may be taken in the sense of fitness, or congruity, as Christ declares

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9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 ¶ And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

that the man who will not take up his cross and follow him, cannot be "worthy of him;" that is, there was no congruity between such a disciple and his master, no correspondence of the one to the other. So here there was no correspondence between the dispositions and tastes of the persons invited to the feast, and the honours and blessings prepared for their acceptance.

Verse 9. Into the highways, &c.-The διέξοδοι were the ways leading out of a city, converged into one great road, and where, on that account, a number of travellers would be met with. Extracts have been brought from the Rabbinical writings to show, that it was customary with the rich to invite poor travellers to their feasts, in order to illustrate this part of the parable; but that this was not common, at least in our Lord's day, appears from one of his parables, where he reproves the wealthy Jews for inviting the rich only to their tables. The persons here invited by the king were evidently those who are ordinarily overlooked and despised, and so their invitation represented the universal call of the gospel to men of all classes and nations, poor as well as rich, publicans, sinners, strangers, and Gentiles; a striking emblem of which was the indiscriminate and promiscuous crowds of people, from every part, who would always be hastening to some populous trading city of Palestine, where might be found not only Jews from distant nations, but Gentiles also, Syrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chaldeans, Edomites, and many others. Yet all were bidden to the feast.

Verse 10. Both bad and good.-The doors of Christ's church are to be thrown

open to all who profess to accept the invitation; but it follows not from this, that no discipline is to be exercised in it before " 'the king comes in to see the guests." But it was not the design of the parable to illustrate this subject; and it is therefore passed over, that deficiency being abundantly supplied by other parts of the New Testament. It is, however, intimated, as in some other parables, that the church would, after all, remain in a mixed state, and not be thoroughly purged of formalists and pretenders, till the day of judgment. Then indeed "the king will come in to see the guests; every one of whom must pass the scrutiny of an omniscient eye, from which none can escape in the crowd. That piercing glance which tries the reins and the heart," will search the whole as though they were but one individual, and each individual of the vast assemblage as though he were alone.

And the wedding was furnished with guests. Here yaμos is used metonymically for the place where the guests were assembled. The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "the house of the feast."

Verse 11. A man which had not on a wedding garment.-As there is nothing in the parable to oblige us to consider this feast as a wedding entertainment, 30 ενδυμα γαμου may be taken to signify generally a banqueting robe; for a certain style of dress, as far as respected the outer garment, was required at all feasts, and, in some cases, it was a mark of the magnificence of the entertainer to furnish his guests with them; to refuse which was, of course, a high indignity. Whether we understand by it such robes as were worn at nuptial or other feasts, is, however,

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

a matter of indifference. Changes of raiment furnished to the guests are mentioned in Homer, and the relics of the custom still remain in the east. The Romans wore a white robe at some of their public feasts; and the etiquette of a particular robe for certain occasions was much insisted upon. Thus Spartianus, in his Life of Severus, relates that this emperor had an omen of his future greatness in this circumstance, that, being invited to sup with the emperor, he went in his short cloak, pallium, instead of his gown, toga, when he was immediately furnished with a gown worn by the emperor himself. A similar occurrence is related of Maximinus, who, when a youth, being invited with his father to sup with the emperor Alexander Severus, not having a supper-gown, vestis canatoria, he was supplied with one which belonged to the emperor. In the scene to which the parable conducts us, as the guests were collected out of the highways, and consisted of travellers and strangers, and it was required of each to sit down in a particular robe, this part of their dress must have been prepared for them in the king's public wardrobe, which was no doubt duly pointed out by the servants who brought them in, and knew the rules of the festivity. It is equally clear that not having on the robe which the established etiquette required, was entirely the fault of the guest singled out and challenged by the Lord of the feast; because he had no defence to offer,—and he was speechless, epiuwen, was silenced, struck dumb; and, further, that a great offence had been committed by him, because of his expulsion from the company, and the punishment inflicted upon Bind him hand and foot, arrest him as a prisoner of state, one who has slighted the favours and mocked the majesty of

him:

his sovereign; and take him away, separate him from a company into which he ought never to have intruded, exclude him from the joys of the festivity; and cast him into outer, or the external, darkness: there shall be weeping, &c. See note on chap. viii. 12.

It would be wearisome to enumerate all the notions which have been entertained of the mystical signification of this wedding or festal garment. One contends for imputed righteousness, another for implanted, a third for both. Some have argued for baptism, others for faith, others for charity and good works. Nothing, however, can be more clear, than that, as this garment would have constituted the MEETNESS of a man to be received as a guest at the feast, so it must represent all those qualities COLLECTIVELY, which constitute our meetness for heaven. And as we are so expressly informed that "without holiness no man can see the Lord;" and as habits of dress are constantly used figuratively to express moral habits of the mind and life, the virtues wrought in man by God's Spirit, and exhibited in a course of external obedience to his will; that one word HOLINESS, implying, as it does in the Christian sense, both the regeneration of those who have penitently received Christ as the propitiation for sin, and the maturing of all the graces of their new nature by the same influence of the Holy Ghost, will fully express all that is comprehended by having the wedding or festal robe. If we are thus "found of him without spot and blameless," we shall be welcomed "into the joy of our Lord;" but if not, as we cannot escape detection, when the king comes in to see the guests, so are we in the parable most forcibly premonished of our doom, and of that consciousness of guilt which shall leave us

b

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

15 ¶Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

b Matt. xx. 16.

without excuse. Erage, friend, is not a word of recognition or affection, but one used to a stranger; and, πws eirλdes wde, How camest thou in hither? is a strong reproof: by what right? under what presumption?

Verse 14. For many are called, &c. Many are summoned or INVITED, few chosen or APPROVED; for such is the meaning of the word, which is not to be taken in the sense of arbitrary selection, but as expressing an act of choice founded upon sufficient reasons. See note on chap. xx. 16, &c. This moral is subjoined to the whole parable, and relates therefore both to the Jews and Gentiles, and is to all awfully admonitory.

Verse 15. Then went the Pharisees, &c. -As they feared the people too much to apprehend Christ at once, though greatly enraged at the former parables he had spoken with direct reference to them, they determined to proceed by stratagem, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk, wayıdevowow, how they might ensnare him, a term taken from ensnaring or entrapping birds, in his conversation. This they attempted to do by endeavouring artfully to extract an opinion from him on the lawfulness of paying tribute to the Romans, on which some of them affected great tenderness of conscience. Thus they came to him under pretence of making a religious inquiry, hoping that his answer might enable them to charge him before the Roman governor as the seditious leader of a multitude collected to subvert the existing government. The persons sent were disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians. As to the latter,

c Mark xii. 13; Luke xx. 20.

great diversity of opinion exists among critics, some considering them as a political sect attached to the Herodian family from the time of Herod the Great, who was always highly unpopular with the Jews in general; others, as a religious sect, and the same as the Sadducees, from whom, however, they are distinguished, verse 23. There are several other opinions; but the probability is, that this was both a political and a religious distinction; political, as being confined to the party of Herod; and religious, as this party was composed of Sadducees, whose opinions Herod adopted, and who like him had little scruple in conforming, in compliment to the Romans, to many pagan customs, which the Jews held in abhor

rence.

Herod Antipas was at this time at Jerusalem, which was the time of the passover; and the Herodians here mentioned were probably in attendance upon him. The union of these with the disciples of the Pharisees was artfully adapted to the designed plot laid to entrap our Lord. The Pharisees were averse, on religious grounds, to pay tribute to the Romans, that is, to submit to their government; and the feeling of the body of the people was with them. Herod and his party leaned chiefly upon the Roman power, and therefore supported their claims, though more out of fear than affection. The question therefore, Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not? might seem naturally to have arisen between the parties in an accidental collision, and they come to Christ with abundance of complimentary expressions, and affect to appeal to his superior wisdom to decide it.

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